Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday inaugurated the country's longest cantilever bridge on the river Chenab in Akhnoor.
Dr Singh, who arrived at Jammu airport by a special plane from New Delhi on Friday afternoon, flew in a helicopter to the Chenab bridge site, about 27-km from Jammu, and dedicated it to the nation.
Governor Lt. Gen. (retd) S K Sinha, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed were among others who received the prime minister at the airport and also accompanied him to the bridge site.
Located at Akhnoor on the Jammu-Rajouri highway, the bridge spans the mighty Chenab providing connectivity between Jammu area and Rajouri, Poonch and Pallanwala.
The two-lane and 280-meter-long balanced cantilever bridge will provide long awaited replacement for the existing single lane multi-span steel bridge of 1932 vintage.
It will provide faster and smooth flow of traffic, the Chief Engineer of Project Sampark of Border Roads Organisation Brigadier U S Dadu told media persons.
The bridge is another landmark achievement for BRO, which is engaged in development of road network in remote border regions of the country, he said.
Constructed by Project Sampark of BRO, the-state-of-the-art bridge has been completed in a record time of 22 months by incorporating latest technologies and best engineering practices, Dadu said.
The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on April 28, 2006, he said, adding Rs 21 crore was spent on its construction.
BRO officials said the requirement of permanent bridge across river Chenab gained significance in the aftermath of 1971 conflict with Pakistan.
Accordingly, a bridge scheme was finalised and approved in 1977 but construction was suspended due to several factors and the case ran into major contractual problems and arbitration proceedings.
However, a decision to complete the bridge was taken in the year 2005 in view of persistent demand of the local people and the strategic requirement. It was proposed to construct 280-meter-long 'balanced cantilever bridge', they said.
The work was taken up as a fast track project after the chief minister laid the foundation stone.